101 Crustaceans

Songs of Resignation

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Songs of Resignation, one of the inaugural releases on Fang Records, was produced by Giorgio Gomelsky, the legendary promoter and producer responsible for some of the most inspired British Invasion recordings, as well as an early champion of the nascent New York experimental scene. That Ed Pastorini, the mastermind behind 101 Crustaceans, could lure such a brilliant icon to his project speaks volumes, yet not nearly so loudly as the music does on its own behalf. Songs is a glorious cacophony of disjointed but somehow still euphonious dissonance -- yes, complete with rave-ups, though intentionally misshapen ones -- that boldly chips away at the carapace of rock & roll, with the chisel swinging somewhere between the Knitting Factory scene and downtown N.Y.C. no wave. In some ways the album plays like the East Coast-raised, post-punkier progeny of Trout Mask Replica, without its painterly scope, but with a similar cubist blues underpinning (twisted into crazy metallic rather than psychedelic shapes) and comparable poetic non sequiturs, as well as an additional three decades worth of urban influences: the paranoid linguistic deconstruction of "I Love Space," the Material-style slap-bass funk foundation running through the combative "Contamination" and "New National Anthem," and the strange electro-rock keyboard runs carved into the end of "Inadequate Piping." This also suggests that Pastorini may have brought a fair share of the avant-garde jazz and Beefheartian free rock aesthetic to the early live ensemble version of Church of Betty, which he would join shortly after this album's release. The recognition-shy Pastorini has yet to follow up on this effort, but Songs of Resignation is challenging, intellectually stimulating, and scintillating enough to resonate until he does.

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